I have to ask you Fops: what’s your game? You release an EP that clocks in at a not-too-brief forty-four minutes. You release said EP on cassette, a format that nobody loves. We didn’t even like it in its heyday of the 80s; it was just necessary in the pre-internet era if you wanted to record a song off the radio or share your demo with a bored producer. Sure, it is more portable than vinyl and everybody loved the mix tape, but everyone forgets the terrible mess that tapes make when they are inevitably eaten by the stereo gremlin. Their cassette guts are strewn about in a terrible massacre, only to be saved by a twisting pencil head eraser, but then there is an everlasting warble in that spot until the tape is retired. When the CD came out, we made a mass exodus to that format, only clinging on to the mix tape until writable CD drives became affordable.
The counter for this diatribe is that the Fops EP, For Centuries, is the perfect album for a cassette comeback with all of its 80s derived pop nostalgia. Distant vocals, droning synthesizers, and soulless drum machines shift pitch and falter in sections that warble like the chewed up tape from the previous paragraph. The guitars that the Fops invite in provide warmth and an offsetting organic feel to their songs; from the watery undertones of “Countless Songs” to the funky riffs of “Cheater Carolina,” life is injected into each track.
The duo fromSan Franciscocall their sound “bedroom pop,” which is apt in that their songs are both catchy and dream-like. The one track B Side, “Ronald Wilson Reagan” is a twenty minute ambient road map for any journey through the unconscious. The acid-trip industrial ride of “I Shot A Parakeet” is the strange dream in the middle of the record where I am buying canned pumpkin pie mix at a hardware store and for some reason my high school physics teacher is working there. “Cheater Carolina” is the perfect single for the album, as it pulls everything together with well-timed tempo, hooky beats and a chorus of “everything will be alright” that sounds so cool, the other side of the pillow would be envious.
For Centuries is a clinic in audio experimentation that gathers the sounds of several decades of electronic sounds and molds them into a solid indie synthesizer sound for whatever we are calling this decade. The Fops know where there roots are and how we got here. A cassette release is a curious way to continue our journey through music but somehow they pull it off.